Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Workshop

The universe began as infinitely small and yet remarkably dense. That's the way many of us feel about improvisation. It seems relatively simple, no lines to memorize, no blocking to follow. But soon we find ourselves overwhelmed with rules of play.

Jeff's workshop is the Big Bang, starting with the small and exploding into the ever expanding universe of improv, from the basics to long form to developing styles of your own.

Give yourself a day or a weekend.

You will participate in an intensive workshop and walk out with a new set of skills. You'll have a lot of fun and gain a new passion for your on stage experience.

Drawing on the work of his mentors Paul Sills and Del Close and his own study of Anne Bogart and Sanford Meisner, this workshop explores the core principles of improvisation techniques for performance.

Jeff Michalski has developed a unique approach to the work, synthesizing these influences to create a new and exciting style. He incorporates all the rules into three simple steps: Move, Read, Play.

You will always stay in a state of discovery. You will not be able to rely on your old tricks. You will renew your current skills and learn new ones.

*Heighten awareness in order to immediately discover the focus of the scene.

*Explore opportunities for creating a distinct language that is shared by the player and the audience, leading to a unique experience during each performance.

Jeff Michalski has worked as a director, producer and teacher with Dan Castellaneta, Ryan Stiles, Amy Sedaris, Mike Meyer, Chris Farley, Steve Colbert and many others.


"Take this workshop!

I'm a workshop addict and have taken many great workshops with some of
the most famous names in Improv. This workshop was game changing.
Just when I thought I had heard every perspective there was on improv,
Jeff and Meghan came in and gave me a set of tools that made my work
instantly funnier, better acted, and smarter. At the same time, it
made it easier, and for the first time made me really feel like the
improv I was doing was important art."

Dan Abrams--participant in Fall "Whole Ball of Wax" New York workshop

Read what some of these people have to say about working with Jeff.


"What could anyone say about Jeff that isn't good?" --Ryan Stiles, "The Drew Carey Show", Whose Line Is It, Anyway?"

"The first director I had at Second City (Jeff Michalski) said, "You have to learn to love the bomb," and I didn't know what he meant for a very long time. Imagine a child drinking a beer for the first time and they can't possibly understand why you like it. And you can't possibly explain why its tastes good." --Stephen Colbert "The Colbert Report"
"When I first started improvising in Chicago almost twenty years ago, I was desperate for guidance. In my search, I encountered numerous "mentors" and "teachers" who, in lieu of any practical advice, mostly offered vague theater platitudes such as "feel the space". I felt lost. After performing in my first Second City show, Jeff, our director, walked back into the green room where Chris Farley, another member of the company, wondered out loud why a rather enormous choice fell to the stage with a thud. Jeff casually replied, "You went for the laugh and they hated you for it." We had found our leader. Jeff speaks simpy and passionately and when it comes to improv, he is always right. Jeff is such a masterful teacher, it's easy to forget he is one of the finest improvisers to ever perform on a stage." --Paul Dinello, writer/producer "Strangers with Candy" & "The Colbert Report" consultant

"Jeff was my favorite teacher at Second City. HE always reminded us to have fun and to be supportive of one another. HE encouraged playing to the top of your
intelligence and trusting the audience to be smarter than you. I loved Jeff's classes and looked forward to going. Whenever I made him laugh was like a badge of honor and I would not be anywhere without his guidance."
-Tim Meadows "Saturday Night Live"

"I have worked with Jeff Michalski both in improvised and scripted works. And I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to sit in some of his workshops and improv classes. Jeff's enthusiasm and obvious love of improv makes it almost impossible to leave the class without being inspired and with great respect for the craft. Watching him throughout the years, remembering some this simple but effective methods, certainly served me well when I was on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" Anyone who has Jeff as a teacher has distinct advantage over anyone else." --Colin Mochrie "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?"

"I have known Jeff Michalski for over 20 years and have worked with him in many capacities. He has directed me in improvisation and sketch and I have written and performed with him. He is uniquely qualified to teach improvisation because of his experience, knowledge and passion for it. He personifies principles like "make the other person look good.

He is a treat to watch and learn from. Time with Jeff is well spent."--Dave Pasquesi Actor and Improv Olympic Alumnus

"Jeff not only teaches, he inspires. His joy and sense of play are contagious. Whenever anyone asks me who they should study improvisation with, Jeff is at the top of that list." Daniel Passer, Clown Master, Cirque de Soliel

Sunday, September 13, 2009



Jeff Michalski has taught all forms of improvisation for over twenty years, as well as developed his own long-form techniques. He has performed across the United States, Canada, and Ireland in theatres and nightclubs and has directed Second City companies in Chicago, Los Angeles, Kilkenny, and Toronto. Founder of the Second City ETC, he also helped create the Second City Training Program in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Currently, he is the owner and Artistic Director of the fanaticSalon, a theatre he established in Culver City in 2006.

As a producer, director and performer, he has worked with Dan Castellaneta, Chris Farley, Amy Sedaris, Mike Meyer, Steven Colbert, Ryan Stiles, and many more.

Here’s how that happened:
JEFF MICHALSKI worked in comedy clubs across the country with the Original Comedy Ranger and was a member of the Groundling in Los Angeles before settling with the Chicago Second City in 1980.

During his years with the Second City, Mr. Michalski studied with Paul Sills and his historic Story Theatre. While traveling the country with Second City's National Touring Company he continued training with Second City founder Paul Sills, and artistic directors Del Close, Fred Kaz and Bernie Sahlins.

In 1984 Michalski and his wife, Jane Morris, founded the Second City ETC. His directorial debut , “Cows on Ice” made the ETC an instant hit and was followed by the even larger success of “Mirrors at the Border”. His achievements brought him to the Second City Toronto where he was nominated for a Dora Award for his direction of "Who's Tory Now?" Michalski continued as director and Artistic Director of the ETC until 1988 when his success in Chicago led him to be chosen as director of the premiere production of the Second City in Santa Monica, also a critical success.

While still in Chicago with the ETC, Michalski also helped found the Second City Training Center, a comprehensive training program from which the next generation of Second City players are chosen. He also founded the Second City Training Program in Santa Monica.

Mr. Michalski and Ms. Morris founded the Upfront Comedy Showcase in 1990, and The Comedy Underground in Santa Monica in 1998. He is currently the owner and artistic director of the fanaticSalon in Culver City, California. He is still teaching people from all walks of life to improvise.

Mr. Michalski’s production credits include many Second City shows and Michael Moore’s "TV Nation". Jeff has also written for comedians and television shows including Emo Phillips and "Exit 57". He has also been a director of the Cats’ Laugh International Comedy Festival in Kilkenny, Ireland. He most recently appeared on the fully improvised comedy, “The Factory” on Spike TV. For a full list of Jeff’s television and movie appearances visit his IMBD page.